Silky Smooth Carrot and Coriander Soup

Thick, creamy, warming, and gloriously yellow. This soup is brought out of the realm of the ordinary with its silky smooth texture, and subtle use of coriander and lemon zest. It’s one of those dishes that has you trying to analyze the ingredients, if you don’t already know them. So, the trick is to take your time frying the carrot and onion; make sure all the ingredients are totally soft before pureeing, and err on the side of caution with the coriander and lemon zest. Start with the lesser amount and check the flavor before adding more. The flavor should be uplifting and curious, and certainly not bland! The same goes for the carrots. If they’re fresh and sweet, you might not want any sugar at all! If they’re a bit older, then a little help from the granular white stuff is appreciated …. but taste before you add; this is not a sweet soup. If the carrots are distinctly old and tasting soapy, use them for something else instead.

soup

1 tbsp vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance)
1 lb carrots, scraped and chopped into slices/dice (the pre-peeled baby ones make this dish pretty quick).
1 large onion, diced
4 tsp ground coriander seed
pared zest of ½ a large or 1 small lemon
1 ½ pints of water
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 tsp lemon juice
1 – 3 tsp sugar (depending on how sweet your carrots are)
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper (that’s right, no salt!)

Melt the margarine in a wide pan, add carrots, and fry over a medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the onion, and fry gently until both are slightly browned and completely soft. They should start to sizzle instead of steam, after a total of about 15-30 minutes.
Stir in the coriander and lemon zest, and warm through for a few seconds.
Add water and cashews, and bring to a boil; simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and other seasonings.
Blend in a high speed blender, or puree and pass through a chinois to make perfectly smooth.
Check seasoning, reheat, and serve.

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Aloo Gobi (Potato and Cauliflower Curry)

When eating out, curry is so often a good option for me. A decent curry house doesn’t have problems substituting oil for ghee and coconut milk for cream, being vegetarian is always understood, and wheat flour isn’t used in everything the way it is used in western cooking. They do, however, have a tendency to use much more fat than I could possibly contemplate while cooking at DSC_0001home, which is probably a really good reason for cooking my own! If you want to make yours ‘richer’ (and I don’t dispute that it tastes good!), then by all means increase the oil used to a couple of tablespoons per pan, but I don’t think it really needs it. It does benefit greatly from the use of fresh ginger and coriander, though. I peel my ginger by scraping a knife blade firmly over the surface, and I like to use a micro-plane to grate it, as this tends to separate out the fibrous parts that can be a little unpleasant. I also keep it vegetarian by discarding the last part so I don’t grate my fingers! However, finely chopping the ginger also works.

I’m sure I’m not the only person on the planet to get intimidated by long lists of spices. This curry recipe, however, is relatively short and remarkably quick to make, cooking in only a little longer than it takes the potato to soften. One pan for veggies, one pan for sauce, and one pan for rice if you’re serving that too. This curry is mild in heat, and the flavors of the vegetables are still evident through the permeating spice flavor. This is a good starter curry for both cook and diner. Delicious!

This serves 4 – 6

1 tsp dry mustard powder
3 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp garam masala

1 + 1 tbsp coconut or other cooking oil
1 large onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cubic inches fresh ginger, peeled, and very finely minced, or micro-planed

14 fl oz chopped, tinned tomatoes
1 – 3 tbsp honey / agave nectar / maple syrup (for vegan option)
1 tsp tamarind paste, or 2 tsp lemon juice, if tamarind is unavailable

1 1/2 lb potato, (waxy, preferably) peeled and chopped into bite size (1/2″) cubes
1 1/2 lb cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt

Fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped

If you’re serving rice with your curry, now is a good time to put the water on to boil!

Measure out the mustard powder, cumin, coriander, and garam masala, into a small bowl.

Warm 1/2 the fat in a frying pan, and gently fry the onion over medium/low heat until completely soft and starting to brown.

Add the garlic and ginger, stir and allow to warm through for a minute.
Add the dried spices, stir, and allow them to warm and become fragrant.
Add the tomato, 1 cup (~8 fl oz) water, honey, and tamarind.
Simmer gently until the tomato chunks break down slightly.

While the onions are cooking, warm the other 1/2 of the fat in a saucepan, and gently fry the cauliflower and potato for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Coating the vegetables in oil will help them to hold their shape during the simmering process.

Add the turmeric, and stir until it evenly coats the vegetables and has warmed through.

Add 1 cup (8 fl oz) of water and the salt to the potato/cauliflower, bring to a simmer, and steam gently until the veggies are barely cooked. If the veggies are still uncooked by the time the water boils off, add another 1/2 cup (4 fl oz) of water and continue cooking.

Add the onion/tomato mixture to the cooked potato and cauliflower along with a couple of tablespoons of chopped, fresh coriander, and simmer uncovered for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check seasoning for salt, and add more sweetener if necessary to counteract acidic tomatoes.

Serve hot, garnished with more coriander, and rice or GF naan bread.

Creamy Onion Soup

My daughter has been horribly ill for a few days now, but when asked if there was ANYTHING she could eat, she asked for this soup. It’s been ages since I made it, but it is a very comforting, warming soup, so I wasn’t so very surprised when she asked, and it is so very easy to make.

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1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, diced
1 medium potato, peeled & chopped small
1/2 – 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup raw cashews or slivered almonds
dash of cayenne pepper (optional, and to taste)
3/4 – 1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp lemon juice (or 1/4 cup white wine)
dash of nutmeg

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.

Fry the onion over a medium heat until the onion is golden.

Add 2 cups (16 fl oz) water, the potato pieces, the thyme, and the nuts.

Simmer until the potato has cooked: about 10 minutes

Add the remaining ingredients, and blend with an immersion or worktop blender.

Return the soup to the saucepan to reheat.

Use 1 cup (8 fl oz) water to rinse out/off the blender into the soup.

Check for seasoning and consistency and adjust to taste with salt, pepper, or water.

Serve hot.

Variation: Warm some garlicky fried cauliflower in the soup, after blending.